On December 14, 2012, after my town's heart was broken, I sat on the sofa watching the news in tears. I couldn't just sit there and do nothing. I didn't have much to offer, except a house full of cats and foster cats. I realized not everyone knows what it's like to be in the company of so many cats at one time and perhaps there was something about the wonder of living with cats that I could share with others. I knew we couldn't take the cats out into the public because that would be a hot mess. I left that job to the therapy dogs.
I worried about opening up our home to the residents of our town. Could they spend time with our cats without it turning into a big liability? What if someone was bitten or scratched? Would I lose the house if someone got hurt? How could I protect my cats and our visitors or was this just a stupid idea? I thought about it for a few minutes, realizing I had to take the chance. I needed to help my neighbors. It was worth the risk. That night Kitties for Kids was born.
I've written more about our program (you can see the post HERE).
The invitation to the 2013 CVMA Awards.
When I was first contacted about this award I thought it was a joke. I called my vet and Dr. Larry said he'd been part of CVMA for years and that CVMA has been around since 1884 and was a very distinguished organization. Wow.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I was a bit sad that no one jumped into the fountain at the Awards Banquet, but there's always next year.
On Tuesday, March 26th, Sam and I drove to Hartford, CT to the Wadsworth Atheneum to attend the Awards Banquet. Now any of you who have read this blog before, know that I've been the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, Inc. for almost three years. To be in a room FULL OF VETERINARIANS was a DREAM COME TRUE! I felt like a kid in a candy store! I wanted to run up to every Vet and make friends with each one. The heck with the award, I need to find more vets to work with (at a discount, of course!).
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, the cauliflower is naturally purple!
Part of me worried that if I found a cute single Vet I might be tempted to leave Sam behind and run off, but the thrill of the evening and the upcoming award forced me to (sort of) temper my enthusiasm.
The Wadsworth is a gorgeous Gothic Revival styled Art Museum. We couldn't explore the galleries, but were kept to a large courtyard with a lovely fountain in the center of it. We hadn't taken more than a few steps into the room, when we were greeted by Dr. Chris, the former President of CVMA. He warmly welcomed us and thanked us for being such an inspiration to others. Who us? What? I couldn't believe it.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This is Addie the Comfort Dog. She is clearly excited about winning her big green ribbon.
Dr. Chris is an emergency room Vet. He likes the thrill of not knowing what's coming in the door next and works and sleeps at the hospital for four days in a row, then takes a few days off to be with his wife, two kids and their menagerie of animals he's taken from owners who could no longer provide care for their animals. This guy has a heart of GOLD and it was very clear he had a passion for caring for animals.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Senator Blumenthal gives his acceptance speech.
We also met with TD Bank sponsors, who were also gracious and friendly. They were chatting with our co-recipients from the Golden Retrievers of Lutheran Church Charities who had brought their dog, Addie with them. We sat down and chatted about, what else, dogs and cats. It was a pleasant start to the evening.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The cover of our Certficate from Senator Blumenthal.
I was stunned and thrilled. A certificate from our own Senator meant the world to me. This accolade was from our STATE, where I've lived most of my life. This sort of recognition was something I could have only dreamed of and here it was about to happen.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My pride and joy.
A few moments later, Senator Blumenthal entered the room. He gracefully made his way around the room, shaking hands and taking photos with people. I knew we would get to meet him so I tried to ready myself for the moment. He shook my hand and thanked us for our service to the people of Newtown. I quickly said a few fumbling words and before he could leave I gave him my card and I asked for a photo. I kept thinking, this man has been to the White House. He knows the President of the United States. Wow.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Proof! Senator Richard Blumenthal and Robin A.F. Olson (me!).
Dr. Chris made the opening remarks and introduced Senator Blumenthal. The Senator gave a very moving, well articulated and heartfelt speech. He had no notes. I thought about how many speeches he must have given over the years and that it was probably second nature to him. I was glad I didn't have to give a speech that night because I doubted I could do as good a job-even with notes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A close up-I'm so honored!
Dr. Chris returned to the podium and began to talk about Kitten Associates and our Kitties for Kids program. I'd sent CVMA information about us and thought I'd hear back what I'd written, but Chris had his own special commendation for us. Hearing it made me blush with joy. I couldn't get over that this was our moment in the spotlight. All we had to do was get up, walk across the room and accept our plaque and certificate.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our CVMA Pet of the Year Award.
BUT I WAS WRONG!
Chris handed me the awards and he whispered to me to go ahead and say a few words. WHAT?! Make a speech? NOW?!
I was buzzing from all the adrenaline coursing through my veins. The rest of the ceremony flew by and no sooner than it was over, the Vet of the Year, Dr. Eva Ceranowicz of Bloomfield Animal Hospital, came over to introduce herself to us. Again, I was floored to get this sort of recognition when I was planning to introduce myself to her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. We did it!
She was delightful and charming. We had a quick, intense conversation, then she was off to talk to more guests and we followed suit.
I got to talk shop with a few Vets who were clearly amused by my knowledge of all things de-wormer related. I tried to make quick BFFs for future reference, but most of the Vets I spoke with had their Practice too far away from Newtown.
The evening was winding down and just as Sam and I were going to leave a gentleman introduced himself to us. He said his name was Gordon and turns out he's the Executive Director of the Connecticut Humane Society! As if talking with a room full of Veterinarians and meeting Senator Blumenthal wasn't enough, here was someone I admired from the rescue side of things and he's a GUY. A GUY WHO DOES RESCUE…(who is also adorable, but I didn't say that to his face). Wow again!
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wendy and Sam really had fun taking part in our Kitties for Kids program (with Barney in the background).
We had a lively conversation and I hoped we would be in touch. He was glad to work with us and vice versa (in our small capacity). Of everything that happened that night, this was definitely a highlight. We shook hands (he has a nice, warm, strong handshake) and said goodnight. I walked out into the cold night air, floating on cloud nine.
And now if you'll excuse me, I have another family coming to visit our kitties and I need to get the room ready!
Make sure you LIKE the CVMA Facebook page. It's embarrassing that they only have 141 likes!
Also, make sure you visit the Connecticut Humane Society FB page and say hello from Robin, but don't tell them I have a crush on their boss.
Today proved that I will do just about ANYTHING to help cats whether it be go broke or wear an ill-fitting, too tight promotional shirt on television just so my rescue group name gets seen by the viewers. I had to ignore my vanity and fear of being fat on TV and just go for it. It's all about the cats, not me, right?
The show is called Better Connecticut and it's hosted by Scot Haney, the sunny, yet madcap weatherman and his co-host, Emmy-award winning journalist, Kara Sundlund. It's an hour long program that covers a wide range of topics. Our segment was devoted to talking about the need all rescues have for foster homes. To help illustrate the point, Enid, from The Queenie Foundation and I brought cats. Enid chose Munchy, a cute year old black and white cat and I brought Belly Holiday and Hello Dahlia.
I arrived to the set at 9am; about an hour before taping and 30 minutes before the audience arrived. The stage manager, Bob, showed me to the Green Room (which is not painted green) where I was able to transfer the kittens from their carrier into a small pink crate and give them time to relax.
I took a moment to reflect. Was it a good idea to feed the girls this morning? I fed them at 7AM and they had until 8AM to use the litter pan. Maybe they would get sick on the Host's nice suit? I feared they would poop in their cage while we were filming, but I didn't want their blood sugar to dive so they had to have something to eat. I offered them a portable litter pan and one of them used it, then dumped half of the litter onto the sofa. I cleaned it up as best I could, then looked around and tried to figure out what to do with my nervous energy.
Diane, who arranged for me to be on the show arrived and started talking up a storm. My brain started to swirl. I felt like I couldn't remember what I needed to say. It only got worse once Enid arrived and they jumped into a heated discussion about Lennox, the Pit Bull, who was unfairly and despicably euthanized in Belfast the day before—simply for being a Pittie. As much as I am angered, furious and heartbroken about this, I didn't want to forget the talking points I'd been practicing. We could talk about Lennox after we were done shooting. We shared 4 minutes and 45 seconds of air time. That's it. Make the point that ALL the rescues and shelters in Connecticut are in DIRE need of foster homes and give the viewers information on how to find rescues in their area where they could volunteer.
I kept thinking about Lennox until they quickly changed the subject to something else. I wanted to talk about our segment and go over the points. Since that wasn't happening, I tried to hide. I looked out the door of the Green Room and hoped for clarity of mind. The past month has wiped me out and getting up at 6AM after another night of not sleeping well didn't help the situation.
At 10: 20 AM it was our time to go. The crew set up my huge Kitten Associates banner on the set. It looked GREAT! Scot sat on a sofa and Enid and I sat at an odd angle on another sofa facing him. They placed the pink crate with the kittens inside it onto the floor. I suggested they put it onto a table so I could stand in the hopes that my rolls of gut fat would slide to my ankles and I'd look less like the Michelin Man. They said it was fine on the floor. I sat on the sofa, a mix of adrenaline, fear and determination buzzed around in my gut. What were we talking about again? What was my name? Un oh. Brain melt.
Harlin, the sweet guy in a headset who seemed to be in charge, must have got some direction from the control room. He had Enid count to 10 into her microphone, then asked me to do the same. In the blink of an eye he told us to get to our places and Scot introduced us, then began a blur of questions. I felt like I was in a batting cage with balls flying at my face, swinging a child-sized bat in my hands.
During the segment, Scot decided to open the crate and take one of the kittens out. He murmured so the audience couldn't hear that it was okay to let them out. LET THEM OUT? Black kittens in a BLACK WALLED STUDIO with nooks and crannies where they could disappear forever? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
And then it was over, almost as if it never started, the time passed so quickly. In my mind, I thought I did well, answered the questions on point and did a pretty good job not saying too much. Of course, as soon as we were done, I started to realize how very tired I was. There was another 45 minutes to go before the taping was finished up, so I restlessly traveled between the Green Room and the audience. I'd check on the kittens and watch them taping the show. I was amused at how different the set looked compared to how the show appears on television. I had a good time and thought that I'd like to do it again if I ever got the chance.
That is, until the segment aired.
We all have an image of how we think we look to the world. We may look in the mirror for hours on end, admiring our firm physique or we may, as I do, not spend much time looking because we're too scared at what we might see. It's very difficult for me to talk about being fat. I was never a skinny kid and I've struggled to try to keep myself from getting truly huge. Not to blame, but to explain, my father killed himself and my mother probably did, too, but I will never be able to prove that. I think maybe I am too stressed and depressed to do what it takes. I don't drink much or smoke. I guess my comfort comes from food, but I don't even do nutty things like eat a tub of ice cream or a bag of chips. I just don't exercise and like most people, I could do better with what I do eat and when (we eat dinner late at night here which is bad, I know).
As I watched myself on TV, I heard my voice, but I saw it coming out of this disgusting mountain of flesh. I wanted to pay attention to what I said, but I kept getting distracted by what I looked like. The angle they shot me at was probably the worst they could have chosen. I tried to sit up straight, but I was sitting at an awkward angle. Could that really be ME? Was I "that" fat? I was so horrified I wanted to turn off the TV and run for it (which I suppose would have been good since I'd get some exercise).
Sam was very nice and said I did well and agreed I didn't look that great, but that I didn't look as bad in real life. Of course he would say that. I'd say that to him, too. But I just sat there hating myself more than ever. Struggling to accept that I must do something about this is very tough for me, cats or no cats, but what can I do?
I know how to lose weight. I know about exercising. I don't need tips for what to do or how to do it. It's my journey and I have to at least try to help myself. I can put myself out there “for the cats” but I can't keep looking at my own reflection and feel shame and self-loathing. I wish that it wasn't an issue and that our culture didn't care. You are what you are, peace to everyone. Everyone is beautiful…but in our culture if you're fat, you're not all that. Maybe if I want to help cats, then in the end, maybe I have to help myself, too? Right now I'd like to hide under a rock for awhile.
It takes a lot for me to share this link with you, but it's part of my journey, warts and all. Here's our segment. I hope you enjoy it.WFSB Channel 3
I brought Jackson home three weeks ago, on the heels of Bobette, our former foster, being adopted (and who's doing marvelously well with her new mama, JaneA Kelley of Paws & Effect).
Jackson wasn't interested in being confined to “his room” from the get go. He was ready to meet everyone and get himself settled. After just two days to decompress, I followed his lead and let him out of his room. He'd already been vetted, tested, in a home-not a shelter. I thought it would be all right to give it a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My sad foster kitty, Jackson Galaxy, a few days after he arrived.
I had the Feliway diffuser plugged in and all the cats had already been on Spirit Essences for a few weeks. I expected hissing and difficulty and was ready to calmly move Jackson back to his room if problems arose.
But they didn't…at least not right away.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson LOVES raw food.
Jackson began to vocalize, a lot. His powerful meow carried throughout the house. Some of my cats reacted to it, but mostly they just ignored it. After Bobette and her attacks on any cat who came close to her I think they were ready for anything but Jackson just walked around with his tail up in the air, yowling. He didn't bother with any of the cats. A few tried to give him a quick sniff when he passed by, but he gave them a look which told them to back off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Ever elegant, Jaks points his paw as he has his morning bath.
I took some time to get to know Jackson. He's a tall cat with a big “Biscuit Head” from being neutered late in life. He weighs almost 14 pounds, but he's lean. He's quick to purr or “burble” when I pet him. He loves to give head butts, but he's not big on being held and so far he's not a lap cat. In some ways he's a bit like a dog-he likes to follow me around the house. He likes to be near the action, but I could tell he was looking for a place to call his own within my home. With 8 resident cats that was not an easy thing to do.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mr. Handsome settling in on the cat tree.
I tried to find a balance between allowing Jackson his freedom to roam around and to give my own cats some peace and quiet. I knew that having a new cat in the house would cause problems and it did. Nicky unleashed a torrent of urine all over the house. Even though he had no contact with Jackson, it didn't matter. He was distressed and displeased. Again I had to search for balance while my cats worked out what to make of this stranger in white.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. High four.
Each night I “tucked” Jackson into his room, but after an hour or two he'd start to yowl and bang on the door to get out. I tried to tough it out. If he made a fuss and I got up, I'd be training him to make a fuss so I would get up. Instead, I didn't sleep.
I didn't get much sleep for two weeks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Feeling blue.
Then I started to wonder if Jackson was sick or that something happened to him in his last home. He didn't care to be touched on his side and would warn me to stop with a nip to my hand. At rest, the rise and fall of his chest looked odd, not smooth and fluid but hitched. Jacks eyes were a bit runny-one stuck closed on and off for a day. He was still eating well, but seemed down. I knew I'd have to run him to see Dr. Larry. My guess-list of what was bothering Jackson was growing. Did he have HCM? Upper Respiratory? Allergy? Heart or lungworms? He's from the south. It's possible.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Kiss-face.
And then the fights began. I didn't see them, but I heard them. One by one, Jackson was asserting himself with my cats, letting them know he was the boss. Each confrontation lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to change the hierarchy of the cats for good.
None of the cats were injured, but there were plenty of clumps of fur on the rugs-none of it was Jackson's. This surprised me because I'd heard that Jackson was picked on, which was why he was surrendered. Perhaps he'd had enough from being picked on before or the family wasn't up front with what really happened. My cats gave him a wide berth, but as each day passes I see him sitting calmly in close proximity to one or more of the cats and the fighting stopped almost as soon as it began.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Life is so tough here in foster care. Don't let me keep you up, Jacks.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Burrito-boy.
Jackson's coat feels a lot better and his feline acne is almost gone. He actually enjoys it when I clean his chin. When I'm done cleaning him off, I lean down and he gives me a few head butts, purring loudly. Jackson's had some rough days. There are times when I reach out to pet him that he shrinks back in fear and runs off. I think someone must have hit him, which makes me sad and more protective of him than ever. When I think about all the care that goes into raising kittens so they never react like that to being petted, I wonder what sort of hellish life this cat may have had.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. This big guy just wants some love.
If you're interested in adopting Jackson, visit Kitten Associates Adopt Page and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Also, please read our Adoption Policies regarding diet, declawing and more. Jackson's forever family should live within or in one of the states surrounding Connecticut-United States of America. For the right adopter, we're open to discussing an adoption that's further out of state, but use your good judgement regarding appropriate distance. As an extra treat, Mr. Jackson Galaxy has graciously offered a 15 minute consult to the person or family who adopts this marvelous kitty.
We're also still looking for a great home for King. We've had NO applications for him and he's been with us for six months. King LOVES people, cats and dogs. He just needs to live with carpeting so he can get around. King was born without his hind paws, but is quite mobile and playful. He just can't “do” hardwood floors.
Nikki Moustaki, pet lifestyle expert, writer and fundraiser came up with a fun idea that that's helping feed cats and dogs throughout the country. Her campaign is called The Pet Postcard Project.
At it's heart, the program is very simple. Create a pet postcard and mail it to Nikki before June 30, 2012. For every 2500 postcards she receives, our generous friends at FreeKibble.com will donate 10,000 “meals” of nutritious Halo Spot's Stew cat food to this month's shelter, The Stray Cat Alliance -based in Los Angeles, CA!
This is just one of the thousands of postcards Nikki has received.
This is where it gets a little bit more interesting…
Jackson Galaxy, star of the hit Animal Planet show, “My Cat From Hell” and passionate advocate and “Cat Daddy” for cats everywhere, has offered to sweeten the pot to encourage all of you to send in a postcard or two (or more!).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's one of my post cards memorializing my cat Bob as an Angel in Heaven. Nikki asks that “MAKE SURE THE WORDS YOU WRITE ARE EITHER FUNNY, PROFOUND, OR HEARTWARMING.”
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer, our mascot, with his copy of Cat Daddy.
You can also visit The Pet Postcard Project on Facebook for the latest updates and hopefully news on the winners!
Now go, be creative and help feed cats in need!
Poor Jackson Galaxy the foster cat. Late last year I rescued this big lug from a Kill Shelter in McDonough, Georgia. He had no hope of rescue since it was so close to Christmas and many rescues couldn't take another adult, but once I saw him I had to save his life. There was something about him, his great size, but sweet vibe that told me this was a kitty who needed to be spared being euthanized.
Fortunately, my friend Katherine from Animals in Distress (AID)said they would take him into their shelter, since I had my hands full. It worked out beautifully and Jackson arrived in January of this year. You can read all about it HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The most tranquil and Buddha-like Jackson.
I also told Jackson Galaxy, the swanky Cat Daddy from Animal Planet's hit show, “My Cat From Hell,” about this apple-head Tom cat. He felt the same vibe and wanted to lend a helping hand. He offered to provide a FREE 15 minute consultation with whoever adopted the cat. I was delighted!
In less than a few weeks a family stepped forward to adopt Jackson. They had other cats and a dog. There was some concern about how he would get along with everyone, but since Jacks did so well at the shelter, not picking fights or bothering with the other cats, that they gave him a chance.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The image that started this journey. How could you say NO to that cat?
Sadly, I don't know all the details, but the basics are that the other cats picked on and attacked Jackson. Jackson didn't cause any trouble at all. He didn't love the dog, but he didn't fight. He tried to stay clear of the cats, but they were violent with him. Eventually the family gave him to their Mother-in-Law since she had no pets. Jackson did fine with her, but then her husband died.
The Mother-in-Law visited her family often and brought Jackson with her. This constant upheaval caused the other cats to continue to attack Jackson. The woman was between a rock and a hard place-either she stop seeing her family, leave Jackson alone or give Jackson back to AID.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The Return of Jackson Galaxy.
I know that the family had a very tough time letting Jackson go and I know they ALL cried about it. They shouldn't be vilified for their choice. Jackson was very dear to them, but with the problems with the other cats, they decided it would be best to let him go.
I think there's a point at which people have made up their minds and you can't tell them to try to re-introduce Jackson or to not travel with him and get him a pet sitter; to work it out differently so Jackson wouldn't lose his home. The point was passed before we had a chance to intervene and on Friday, Jackson was brought back to the shelter.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Investigating his new home.
As fate would have it, AID was beyond full up, but they HAD to take Jackson. I felt responsible and tried to figure out what I was going to do, but Bobette was here taking up the only space I could use for Jackson. It just worked out beautifully that JaneA Kelley adopted Bobette while Jackson waited in a cage at the shelter for space to open up here. He only had to wait a few days.
I brought Jackson home yesterday afternoon and got him settled. My home is the fifth home Jackson's lived in in as many months. He is a bit anxious. He wants OUT of his foster room, but I need to give him and my own cats time to adjust to Bobette being gone and to the new arrival.
Jackson's coat is in terrible condition. It's dry and feels tacky. He must have been fed junk. His eyes are a bit runny and he has feline acne, which I'm already treating homeopathically and with diet. I've been brushing him a lot and trying to soothe his fears. He seems ready to meet my cats and just hang out, but I fear he will break with an upper respiratory infection from all the stress he's been under, so I have to wait a few more days.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Simply, Jackson. Visit his Petfinder Ad HERE
Jackson will be fine here until we get a great home for him. He's very likable and loving and meows like mad when he gets lonely. I hope he and my cats become friends. He deserves to have a good experience with other cats.
Jackson's very lucky. He not only has me and Katherine looking out for him, but Jackson Galaxy, the man himself, is also this cat's Guardian Angel. Mr. Galaxy took a liking to this big Buddha of a cat and is dedicated to helping us find our boy a great forever home.
With so many people on his side, I just know that one day the REAL forever family for Jackson Galaxy the cat will find him. Until then I get to say I'm living with Jackson Galaxy! How cool is that?
If you're interested in adopting Jackson, visit Kitten Associates Adopt Page and fill out a Pre Adoption Application. Though we prefer adopting within the United States and the area in or around Connecticut, for the right adopter, we're open to discussing an adoption that is further out of state.
“Some others I've seen might never be mean
Might never be cross or try to be boss
But they wouldn't do
For nobody else gave me the thrill
With all your faults I love you still
It had to be you”*
What transpired over the past few days has left me a bit tongue tied. Perhaps it's a bit too soon to try to make sense of it all, but the news I have to share is so surprising, I couldn't wait to begin writing.
Barely four days ago, I said to my friend, JaneA Kelley, who's the well known “Mama, Webmaster & Chief Cat Slave” of the blog Paws and Effect: A blog by cats for cats and their people , that she should come to Connecticut to visit my foster kittens. JaneA immediately agreed and suggested she was available that weekend and did I want to get together then? The kittens are old enough to be adopted and since one of them is named after one of JaneA's cats, I thought the timing could work out (if I did a massive “hide the piles of paper” cleaning ASAP). The kitten I really wanted her to meet is named Dahlia. You can read about the cat she's named in honor of by clicking the following link, “Farewell, Sweet Dahlia”.
Although I did have some plans “penciled in” for the weekend it was something JaneA said to me that made me clear the decks so we could get together. She said she'd love to meet the kittens, but she really wanted to meet Bobette!
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Bobette? You mean the cat who's been here in foster care for six months and three months before that in Georgia in foster care? The one who I've never gotten even ONE application to adopt? Bobette who was named after my dearly departed cat, Bob Dole? The same Bobette who has struggled to get along with my eight cats, who suffered through losing three of her six kittens and who had to recover from a very difficult and painful surgery to correct her Patellar lunation?
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
I didn't want to press the subject of WHY she wanted to meet Bobette. I knew the reason, but couldn't imagine saying the word, ADOPT. Bobette is an amazing cat. She has a great personality, is smart, silly and sweet, but she's had difficulty adjusting to living with my cats and has charged and hissed at them on a daily basis. I know that it's partly due to my own inability to properly introduce Bobette to the crew and, over the past few weeks, Bobette, on her own, has been slowly carving a place for herself and the attacks have reduced in number and intensity. I was resigned to having a very difficult to place adult cat on my hands-one that should probably be an only cat, but…I HATE thinking that ANY cat has to be an only cat. Again, I look to the Cat Guaridan for why multiple cat households have failures. It's not black and white, but there are MANY cats out there who get labeled as having to be “only cats,” but who would probably be just fine with one or two other cats IF they had the time to adjust and be introduced.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA is making some sort of secret code gesture or Vulcan Salute FAIL. Meanwhile I'm trying to look awesome-FAIL.
I warned JaneA that she'd have to sleep in the foster room with the kittens and she was almost giddy about the idea. I forget I'm around kittens all the time, but for many other people it's a special event. We sorted out the details and JaneA arrived Saturday afternoon with her bags and two bottles of wine. Clearly she was prepared to have some fun!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette tries to use the power of her mind to melt the window pane.
I ushered JaneA into my home, introducing her to my cats. I'd left Bobette sitting in the kitchen. She was mesmerized by a weird looking squirrel who was missing half his tail. He was focused on eating bird seed on the deck railing while she sat frozen, her butt wiggling every so often in anticipation. I could tell Bobette was saying a kitty prayer that the glass in the window frame would melt so she could bust through it and bite the rest of the squirrel's tail off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA and Bobette get to know each other.
I asked JaneA if she wanted to meet Bobette and she perked up and looked around. I brought her over to Bobette. She called to her and Bobette stood up and ran over to her side! In that moment, I witnessed love at first sight; as if two halves, separated for years, had finally come back together.
I didn't say a word. This was the look I hope to see in all my adopters, but it didn't add up. JaneA could provide a home for any cat. She didn't have to drive for five hours just to meet this one, but what I didn't know was that JaneA had been following Bobette's story from the first days we rescued her out of the Henry County kill shelter. From afar, JaneA had a gut feeling that this was her cat, but at the time she couldn't add to her kitty family and then after the tragic loss of Dahlia the timing just wasn't right.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with a squirmy Bobette.
JaneA, Sam and I caught up on recent events. JaneA's blog just got nominated for a BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Award for Best Meow Blog! Of course I'd be glad if she won, but only if I don't win, first! Although we're both nominated for the same category, the pressure is off since it's a Juried award and we don't have to beg for votes. This time it feels like we're already both winners since we're Finalists. The rest is gravy…or 5,000 meals of cat food from FreeKibble.com, which is part of the award to the Winner.
JaneA met the kittens and the big moment of her meeting her cat's namesake, was a huge letdown. The kittens were a bit nervous having both myself and JaneA in the room. When I picked up Hello Dahlia to bring her to JaneA, the kitten freaked out and ran off. The heartwarming moment, the tears never came to pass. It was fine by JaneA. She knew that the kittens would have a far easier time being adopted. It appeared that JaneA was thinking about something else—a little spitfire named Bobette.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Bobette has such a sweet face and her eyes are really that bright shade of green.
We went out for some nice FRIED FOOD for dinner, followed by a sickly huge waffle cone full of ice cream. It was fun to have another cat lady to hang out with and the time flew by. Soon it was time to get JaneA settled into the foster room. We made up the bed while the kittens ran around. JaneA laid on the bed, hanging off it so she could get closer to April without scaring her. I wished JaneA good luck trying to sleep in a room full of kittens. I closed the door and said a little prayer hoping it would go all right. The few times I've napped with the kittens I was terrified I'd roll onto one and kill it. I guess I'd have to hope for the best.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Beautiful brat.
The next morning, I asked JaneA how she slept as we prepared to make a pot of coffee. “I slept like a baby!” was her surprising reply. Apparently the kittens settled down and went to sleep as she did the same. Being around kittens was truly good for her soul…but…what about Bobette?
I didn't want to push JaneA into doing anything she wasn't ready to do, but as the time drew near for JaneA to return to Maine, I coyly asked her how she felt about Bobette. She said she loved her already. We discussed how it might work and our concerns that Bobette might not be a great fit in her home. I knew that of anyone who could possibly adopt Bobette, this was one person who understood the importance of a proper introduction, knew how to do it and was willing to take the time to do it right. I told JaneA that we could do the adoption on a trial basis and that I would ALWAYS take her back if it didn't work out.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. A few last pets for my foster sweetheart.
JaneA sat on the floor and called to Bobette. She asked Bobette if she wanted to go home with her. Bobette responded by rubbing against JaneA's knees, her arms and pressed her face against her hand, clearly saying, “yes.” I had to fight back the tears it was such a beautiful sight.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. JaneA with her cat, Bobette.
We signed the contract and I pulled together some of Bobette's favorite toys and some cans of food. I didn't have time to take “farewell photos” or even say more than goodbye and kiss her quickly on the head as JaneA placed her into the cat carrier. It all happened in a heartbeat. As we waved goodbye to JaneA and her newest family member, I turned away, hot tears trailing down my cheeks.
I was so very happy, yet so sad to see little Bobette go.
My phone rang. It was Katherine from Animals in Distress. Did I have space to take in another cat? I laughed at the irony of the timing, then asked her what she needed help with. Her words cut into my heart...
“Jackson Galaxy just got returned to the Shelter. His adoption fell through.”
*"It Had to Be You" is a popular song written by Isham Jones, with lyrics by Gus Kahn, and was first published in 1924.
If fans of Jackson Galaxy, the punk-abilly “Cat Daddy,” who stars in Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” weren’t already swooning over his “catuitive” techniques; Galaxy’s first book, “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean,” would push them into catastic bliss.
His story, which runs a breezy-to-read 300 or so pages, is not your typical tale of how a cat changed a human’s life. It’s a tag team relationship that spans thirteen years—many of which, for Jackson, are overshadowed by his intake of a dizzying array and quantity of illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription medications. And there’s his cat, an owner-surrendered white and gray shorthair with a broken pelvis named Benny who acts as both witness and muse (though more often he plays the part of a Gremlin, flipping off Galaxy’s initially arrogant assessments of his non-human-friendly behaviors).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. For the first time in his life, Spencer wishes he could read.
I had a chance to speak with Mr. Galaxy a few days before his book hit the store shelves. Ready with my questions, I waited nervously for him to call, wondering if it would matter that due to a snafu, I hadn’t gotten an advance copy of his book to read! As in our previous conversations and sole “4-hours-I’ll-never-forget-dinner,” within 30 seconds of our conversation beginning, I was unable to maintain my professional distance and conduct the 10 minute interview (which somehow went for 30 minutes).
Instead, Jackson clearly wanted to tease me, to charm me and to lay down the law. All fun and games aside, there’s a churning passion in this man’s heart that’s simply electrifying. His book, “Cat Daddy,” serves up his passion on a brilliant platter, but be careful, there’s a Petri dish on top, incubating a lifetime of pain. Galaxy repeatedly falls flat-faced onto the floor from a near overdose of drugs. You wonder how someone so decidedly “over-sensitive” to the world around him, who works so hard to cocoon himself from feeling, is ever going to survive, but somehow he does and then some.
©2005 Dr. Jean Hofve DVM. Used with permission. Benny near the window in Jackson's former Boulder, Colorado apartment.
The cure for what ails Galaxy walks on four, albeit one gimpy, legs. Benny’s a physically and emotionally broken cat who gets under Jackson’s skin and who metaphorically rips him to shreds until he learns how to feel again. Galaxy finds in Benny the key to unlocking both their inner demons though the transformation doesn’t happen overnight. His endless dedication to solving the mystery that is Benny, supercedes any need for a drink, a smoke, a snort.
What’s curious is that Galaxy stated he didn’t experience “Bobby Brady fireworks” when he realized his emotional over-sensitivity was exactly what was needed to help him get into the heads of the cats at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, where Galaxy worked in the early 1990’s. One night, during a violent thunderstorm, the cats began to literally scream in fear. He was a rocker, dammit, and his band Pope of the Circus Gods was going to hit it big some day. What was he doing testing his theories on how to help soothe the cats anxiety during such extreme stress when he could be writing the next hit single?
Yet Galaxy told me that after the storm passed, exhausted, he slumped against the wall of the cat room, soaked to the skin from the leaky ceiling, and realized he was surrounded by cats who were no longer panicked from the storm. Instead of bliss, it’s resignation. He sighed and said; “Shit. You’re a fool not to notice a defining part of your life.”
From “Cat Daddy”:
“Despite the sweaty layer of pharmaceutical shrinkwrap that muted my physical, spiritual and psychological self, I forced myself to read, to study, to observe, to learn. Despite what I didn’t want to be, something was growing.”
Galaxy’s words are unvarnished, sharp-witted and equally sharp-tongued— especially when he talks about being chided for euthanizing animals. After he explains why it’s reprehensible to vilify someone for purposely ending the life of a shelter animal just to ease overcrowding he writes:
“The job had to get done, and I would do it, but I would do everything in my power to change the necessity at its source: I would commit to spreading a strong message about spaying and neutering…”
Can I get a Hallelujah here?
There are other equally important messages in “Cat Daddy.” One such message touches on the importance of feeding a species appropriate diet (and you know how I feel about that-right on Mr. Jackson!), as well as sprinkled throughout the book there are helpful cat behavior tips. My only pet peeve is that I would have loved to see the tips grouped together at the END of the book. Galaxy’s story is one I want to sit down and read without the distraction of a specially formatted callout begging me to read it before I get back to the story. In fact, I read the book a second time, ignoring the tips and the tale landed a stronger punch.
©2005-ish Jackson Galaxy. Sweet Benny.
If you share a passion for cats and are confused about how to co-exist appropriately with them, this book, though not specifically a cat behavior guide, lends a friendly hand. In a way it’s like reading two books in one because you also get to hold tight as you bear witness to Mr. Jackson’s Wild Ride.
When I asked him about his growing celebrity he laughed it off. He has “no patience for what he sees—entitled celebrity B.S.” Sure, he’d like to spoil himself by maybe flying First Class” or buying five pairs of glasses but doing anything beyond that—even buying his first house seems “too big to think about right now.”
I found it ironic that Jackson wrote that his father, grandfather and brother were all salesmen, but he was not. I think Galaxy missed what seemed obvious to me after reading “Cat Daddy.” That he’s the best salesman in his entire family. He’s sold millions of fans who watch his show or read his book on the idea that cats are not little people in cat suits, who think and act just like humans and should be treated accordingly.
After a decade of addiction, once truly clean and sober, ready for a fresh start, Galaxy writes about a turning point with his cat, Benny: “I began to approach him as the cat he was, not as a differently shaped human, and he responded.”
Jackson Galaxy just celebrated his ninth year “sober-versary.” I asked him if the stress of the book tour and 62-day shooting schedule of MCFH Season Three was going to push him into old (bad) habits. He said the all too familiar quote about the idle hands being the Devil’s workshop and that these days the only thing he does other than work is eat, sleep and feed the animals. Staying busy keeps him out of trouble and so far he’s still very thankful and humbled by what’s happened so far, which was clearly evident during our interview when he described just how amazed he feels about this journey.
Wow, indeed, Jackson. You’ve come a long way, Cat Daddy.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cricket, my former feral feline, thinks “Cat Daddy” is worth making his own as he adds his scent to the spine.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. The review above is based on my opinion only. Your results may vary. Read with a box of tissues nearby.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson (photoshop goofiness only). What if the Mona Lisa was Covered in Cat Hair? Leonardo would have been dismayed having to paint in all that extra detail, but maybe he would have invented the first lint roller?
Let's face it, even I, the self-proclaimed High Priestess of Covered in Cat Hair, am not a fan of having to buy lint roller brush refills by the case, just so I can wear black. Loving cats means being covered in cat hair. It's a given.
But what can your cat do to get rid of all that excess fur if he can't use a lint roller on himself? Try as they might, the best they can manage is to lick it off and they NEVER get all of it-which is why we go around saying cute things like “In my house cat hair is a condiment.” Yecch. What's worse is they often throw up a jam-packed fur-sausage at some point, days or weeks later, usually in the middle of the night when you're trying to sleep! Double-yecch.
©2009 Robin A.F Olson. How many cats are in this photo? Even Nicky isn't certain.
The sad truth is that what once was simply gross or somewhat entertaining (if your nasty mother-in-law or ex-boyfriend-to-be stepped on a newly minted, wet hairball barefoot), belies a potentially serious health issue. Could this be the first sign of Inflammatory Bowel Disease or worse…Lymphoma? Studies are showing a strong link between cats vomiting out hairballs and illness caused by an inappropriate diet!
©2009 Robin A.F Olson. Recycle your cat fur. In the spring the birdies love to line their nests with cat fur. I put my “fur mains” into a suet feeder and the birds can help themselves (and entertain my cats who are watching through the window).
In short, feed your cat an appropriate diet and watch the hairballs disappear. This means, at least a grain free canned food that's high in protein and low in carbs. Ideally you should feed your cat a raw diet. If you do, not only will you rarely ever see your cat struggling to blast out a hairball, their coat will shine, feel like silk and their poo won't smell any more-BONUS! Visit our friends over at Feline Nutrition Education Society for more information on species appropriate diet for your cat.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. All this fur only took about an 30 minutes to get off my cats and I could have easily gotten a lot more off a few of them.
The fine folks at FURminator® (say that five times fast) suggest that you brush your cat to prevent hairballs. I think that's part of the solution, but I suggest you try feeding an appropriate diet and monitor the changes. Where I find brushing is the most important aspect of caring for your cat is it gives you an opportunity to develop a deeper bond with them. In general, myself included, I don't think we spend enough one on one time with our cats. Brushing them is a great way to not only get rid of the excess fur, but it's a way for you to show love for your cat without giving them fattening treats.
After a stress filled day, skip the Appletini and kick back with your cat. Give her some loving attention and you'll be rewarded with a purring, confident, happy cat.
©2012 Robin A.F Olson. Yes, we were so goal oriented we made TWO Fur-lebrities. Teddy especially liked Jackson Galaxy.
The sweet thing about Furminator's deShedding solutions is that they have a Long Hair deShedding Edge and a Short Hair deShedding Edge. Originally, they had ONE tool and it did NOT work on long hairs at all. In fact it was terrible, but it worked GREAT on short haired cats. Now that they've modified their design, long haired cats can benefit, too. I was supplied with a Long Hair deShedding Edge to use on my super pouffy cats: Spencer, the DOOD and Blitzen and they all enjoyed it (though the DOOD got so excited I had to stop brushing him or he would have taken off my hand at the wrist) These tools are NOT for removing mats, but they ARE for getting the undercoat thinned out without stripping the top coat (though be careful not to overdo it and cause a bald patch!). My favorite is to use both my long haired and short haired tools in the spring or fall when the cats shed their winter coat or summer coat, respectively and it doesn't hurt that these tools are beautifully designed and come in awesome colors.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Didn't you just KNOW this was going to happen?
And then there was the creation of our Angelina Jolie made out of cat fur. As you know, FURminator invited us to have some fun creating a Fur-Lebrity out of cat fur and enter it into a contest that celebrated National Hairball Awareness Day. [See all the behind-the-scenes images of how we created Angelina Meowy on a previous post I wrote] HERE. My friend Irene and I worked very long hours for a week to create her and we were very honored to be chosen as one of the five finalists. Though we did not win first prize, we had a blast and I learned that you can do a lot with cat fur, which gives me more reason to keep brushing my cats.
In fact, I've been so inspired I may start making a life-sized Fur-Lebrity. I'm thinking I would enjoy re-creating Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Of course I'd have to MEET HIM and do some very careful studies, take measurements of his body, so I would get it right. Anyone know his agent?
My sister cat-bloggers have gone over this topic more eloquently than I have and in more detail. Click on, “See More Fur-lebrities Here.” to view a blogroll of other blogs who are participating in National Hairball Awareness Day and who have taken the time to put together some fabulous tips for you .
After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO compensation for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am usually supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.
Did you know Natioanl Hairball Awareness Day is April 27th? Our friends at Furminator want to remind everyone about the importance of keeping your pets groomed, not only to alleviate nasty hairballs, but to encourage bonding between cats and their guardians and to help keep your cat feeling comfortable. Mats on any animal are painful. As they get bigger and thicker, they pull on the skin making every step uncomfortable, then cause infections and bleeding. I'll discuss Furminator's de-shedding tools and some grooming tips in another post. For now let's focus on the strange and bizarre (my favorite!) request the Furminator folks asked of me.
A select number of cat bloggers were invited to create, what I call a “Fur-lebrity” (celebrity look-alike) out of cat fur! Sound insane? Yes, I'd say so! The rules were simple, groom your cat and use the fur and whatever else you need for your creation. Who you create is up to you.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My fur-lection of cat fur.
I do not consider myself to be crafty, but I did go to art school so I had some hope I could pull this off.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Gathering some tools I think might help.
Who would I try to create? I immediately thought of Jackson Galaxy, but then realized I had no way to recreate his brilliant tattoos. I wanted to do someone who is easily recognizable-then it hit me-I would re-create Angelina Jolie's newsworthy leg flash at the 2012 Academy Awards. It went viral in seconds. Her LEG got it's own Twitter page, followed by the creation of a MEME showing classic images with her leg added to them. If you haven't seen it, you can look HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We have fur. We have photo. Now what do we do?
I had NO clue how I was going to pull this off. I did research and gathered images. I called my friend, Irene and asked her to help. We both got to work brushing our numerous cats and made plans to get together for a planning session. Was I overthinking this? Yes! But I REALLY want that First Prize donation!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Felting the fur, then making a curl. COOL! I can do this!
My shorthairs really shed like crazy and I got a TON of fur off of them. Pee-tunia loved being brushed. I must have brushed her for 30 minutes and I could have kept going her fur is so dense! Because it's so dry this time of year, static electricity built up and I wore almost as much fur as I removed from my cat.
The longhaired cats didn't contribute much, but their fur was softer and easy to work with, especially the DOOD's.
I bagged each cat's fur separately since I'm anal retentive, plus I thought if we had to dye the fur we'd know how much we had up front. Heck, I could always get more as long as didn't make my cats bald.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The LEG. I think Angie is gonna have to shave it!
Irene and I spent many hours working, scratching our heads, making weird faces, feeling confused. We went to a craft store and found lots of goodies that inspired us to keep going.
After we'd found lovely little detail items, we really got to work. Felting cat fur is fairly easy, you just rub it into the shape you want and it stays that way. Irene and I were both covered in cat hair as we worked. We tested, ripped apart, started over. We got Angelina's dress sorted out and I thought it looked spot on. We even got the pleats correct. I started to get into making every little thing I could think of. I made her a little purse, adding earrings and a ring. I even added strips of gray fur to suggest her tattoos. She has one on the inside of her right arm and the longitude and latitude of where her children were born tattooed on her left arm (to cover a tattoo she got of her ex, Billy Bob Thornton's name).
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. The gown is lookin' fine!
We kept looking at our reference images. I kept asking myself if there was enough fur being used? How creepy is her face if we SEW on her features? Yes, it's creepy, but just using a doll face seemed like cheating. Irene and I kept looking at each's others contributions. I did the leg, she did the face. I made curls. She sewed the dress once I got the fabric pinned. All said and done, we were really happy with the finished Fur-Lebrity. We even found sparkly red paper we could use for the Red Carpet.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Angelina Meow-y.
Before I photographed our entry, I had to use a LINT ROLLER to get the cat fur OFF part of the gown! Seemed a bit ironic to need to do that.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. What a cute couple!
Then Irene's niece, Chris sent us a surprise! She created a spectacular Jackson Galaxy! Now I had a problem-we could only enter ONE Fur-lebrity! I felt like I was in a warped version of Sophie's Choice!It was a very difficult decision, but in the end, I went with Angelina. I sure hope Jackson doesn't feel betrayed!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't be mad at us, Jackson! You know we love you!
If you'd like to see the other entries, just click on the badge, above. I'm going to go vacuum up some cat hair.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Just how much food is in that big truck?
This past December, my dear friend, Caroline Golon, mama of the famed, Romeo the Cat, asked me if I could help photograph the delivery of a huge donation of dog & cat food to a few very lucky local shelters. I was glad to help and was curious to see how much food was being donated. I grabbed my nephew, Ryan, who enjoys photography too, and we made our way to Greenwich, CT to wait for the truck to arrive.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Some shelter in the area is going to be VERY HAPPY soon!
When a semi truck arrives, you know this is going to be a big donation. Ryan and I were amazed at how many palettes of food came off the truck for the waiting rescues. I knew that every bag would help keep shelter animals going until they found their forever homes and help the rescues be able to use their funds to cover other things, like Vet bills, instead of having to worry about finding the resources to buy food.
Mimi Ausland, who started FreeKibble.com at age 11!
As payment for my services, I was told I could donate 5,000 meals of kibble to MY favorite Non-Profit Animal Rescue or Shelter! Stunned at the thought of that much food, I asked if the donation could come to my own rescue, Kitten Associates.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our shipment arrives-all 2500 cans!
As many of you know, KA is a tiny rescue (right now!), but we really go through the food because kittens eat non-stop. A case of 12 cans can last a day or two depending on how many kittens we have.
Co-Owner of Halo, none other than the most supremely awesome animal lover,
Ms. Ellen DeGeneres
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Making friends with my new palette of cat food. Did I write, PALETTE OF CAT FOOD? YIPPIE!
If we really were getting almost 900 pounds of cat food, I knew that storing it in my garage would expose it to strong shifts in temperatures and possibly spoil the food. I decided it would be better to grant some of our donation to our friends at Animals in Distress as well as to ship some out to our foster homes in Georgia and to a few select local families-in-need. Even doing all that we'd still have plenty of food for our own foster cats.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My car is full of cat food! Woohoo!
There WAS a “little” hitch in our plans which made for an episode of “My Backache From Heck.” The truck wasn't suited to back down the driveway because it wasn't paved. We didn't want the truck to get stuck so we were faced with tearing down the palette, moving each case of food to the garage, then re-stacking the palette in it's new location! Oops!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mine! ALL MINE! Okay, some of it is mine, the rest I'm sharing.
It took a few hours to get everything moved and I honestly would have moved it miles if I had to, I'm so very grateful to have this donation. It will mean we can use our funds to cover other costs related to rescuing cats and it will give us some breathing room and a little less to worry about. With adoptions down, donations hard to come by and more cats being surrendered and abandoned, it's very uplifting to know that there's a company out there who really CARES and wants to make a difference for cats and dogs across the country.
“Freekibble.com was launched in 2008, as the vision of then 11 year-old, Mimi Ausland. Mimi wanted to feed the hungry dogs and cats at her local shelter. "There are 10's of thousands of dogs and cats in animal shelters across the country, all needing to be fed a good meal." With this goal in mind, Freekibble was created.
Today, the Freekibble Network reaches over 500,000 passionate pet-lovers. This loyal community has helped us feed over 7 million meals to homeless dogs and cats in shelters, rescues and food-banks across the country.
Thanks to our Official Kibble Sponsor, Halo, Purely for Pets, we are able to donate the highest quality, all natural kibble, for happier, healthier pets while they wait for their forever homes.
All of us at Freekibble are committed to Mimi's original dream that "Every dog and cat deserves a decent dinner". And, we're dedicated to the primary mission of feeding nutritious food to as many shelter dogs and cats as we possibly can.”